Category Archives: Linda Cole

Move Over Pigs – Truffle Hunting Dogs Are Taking Over!

By Linda Cole

Truffles are one of the most expensive culinary delicacies used in cooking. This highly prized tubular fungi grows underground and can only be found by pigs or dogs trained to sniff them out. Female pigs have been the traditional truffle hunters because finding them is something they do naturally with no training, but they are apt to eat the pricey mushrooms. Truffle hunting dogs have been used in Italy and France for years, and now American hunters are also relying on canine noses to root out these elusive and expensive treats.

The Lagotto Romagnolo, an Italian water dog, has been the breed used by Italian truffle hunters since the 1800s. Retrievers, setters, pointers and dogs used in detection work – including the Belgian Malinois, German Shepherd and Beagle – all easily adapt to hunting truffles. Poodles, Fox Terriers and Dachshunds also have a good nose for finding the hidden gems. But any dog, mixed or purebred, can be trained to sniff out truffles. Like pigs, dogs will eat the truffles; however, it’s much easier to stop a dog from eating one than it is to convince a 300 pound pig to drop her favorite treat.

Truffles are among the world’s most expensive natural foods. They are found in Europe, North America, Asia and North Africa. Warty and irregular, truffles can be as small as marbles up to the size of a fist. They’re often found around the base of pine, willow, hazelnut and oak trees, although pretty much any tree can have one of these prized treats hidden underneath.
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Are Pets Affected by the Daylight Savings Time Change?

daylight savings marioBy Linda Cole

Daylight savings time reverts back to standard time on Sunday, November 2, except for most of Arizona and Hawaii that don’t participate in the time change. We lose an hour (spring forward) in the spring and gain it back (fall back) in the fall. These yearly time changes may not be that big of a deal to us, but to pets it can be confusing and stressful. Fortunately, there are things you can do to help your pet adjust and hopefully avoid having your extra hour of sleep interrupted by a hungry cat or anxious dog wondering why you’re still in bed.

Humans, animals, plants and even fungi have a biological clock on an approximate 24 hour cycle. Our circadian rhythm (internal clock) tells us when it’s time to sleep, wake up and eat. It’s how bears and other hibernating animals know when it’s time to find a nesting site for the winter, and it’s what signals migrating butterflies and birds that it’s time for their seasonal journey. The circadian rhythm is based on periods of light and darkness, and it doesn’t matter if light is natural or artificial. Animals know when the seasons are changing and our pets do notice an increase or decrease in daylight when we change times each year.

A dog or cat’s daily routine is something they would prefer to be written in stone. Unfortunately, things happen that can alter schedules, and a simple time change can be perplexing for some pets. Because they live in the human world, we are the ones that decide when it’s time for our pets to go for a walk, play or eat their CANIDAE, and also when it’s time to go to bed and wake up. In the fall when we gain an hour and can sleep in, our pets are still on daylight savings time and don’t understand why we’re still in bed when they are up and ready to go. Their internal clock is saying morning has arrived and it’s time to get moving (and get fed!).
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Icelandic Sheepdog: The Dog That Traveled with Vikings

Icelandic Alan LevineBy Linda Cole

The Icelandic Sheepdog is Iceland’s only native dog breed. A member of the Spitz family of dogs, this ancient breed traveled with the Vikings when they sailed from Norway and other Scandinavian countries to settle in new lands. Considered one of the oldest breeds, this primitive herding dog dates back to between 874 and 930 AD. They adapted so well to Iceland’s challenging environment and farming techniques, they were invaluable to farmers who used them to manage and move livestock.

The breed is known by other names such as the Iceland Spitz, Iceland Dog, Friaar Dog, the “dog of the Vikings,” or simply ISD. Legends tell the story of a loyal and noble dog that worked side by side with Icelandic farmers. The climate was harsh and the terrain difficult to traverse. The Icelandic Sheepdog, a crucial partner to those who worked the land, was a hard working and beloved companion of farmers.

Isolation from other dogs allowed the Icelandic Sheepdog to evolve over the centuries through natural selection and development by man. Well suited to work in and withstand the harsh Icelandic environment, these hardy dogs have changed little over the centuries. They were so respected and cherished by their owners, archaeologists have found many primitive grave sites of ISD indicating ancient farmers felt their dogs were worthy of being honored with a proper burial.

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K9 Nose Work: A Dog Sport for All Canines

nose work emeryBy Linda Cole

If there’s one thing all dogs love to do, it’s sniffing out interesting scents. K9 Nose Work is a dog sport that evolved from the drug detection community. It’s an entertaining way to give your pet exercise and mental stimulation as he searches out a variety of scents. From a dog’s point of view, anything that gets his nose wiggling is fun. K9 Nose Work is also a good activity to do at home when your dog is bored.

One can’t help but wonder when watching a dog, what sort of scent has captured his attention. The canine nose is so amazing it can pick up scents we will never be able to smell. My dogs are always pointing their nose to the sky, wiggling their nose excitedly as scents drift by in the wind. Some smells are more interesting than others, which can be seen in their body language.

The creators of K9 Nose Work are professional trainers and certified handlers of detection dogs. The idea came from observing the satisfaction of canines trained to do search and rescue, tracking, and detection work. They wanted a dog sport open to all canines who wanted to participate in an enjoyable game of finding hidden scents. It doesn’t require any special training or athletic ability for either the dogs or the humans.

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How Guide Dogs are Matched with Their Blind Owners

guide dog siniBy Linda Cole

Future guide dogs begin their lessons as puppies. They go through extensive training and socialization before they are ready to safely guide a sightless person through a busy, and at times chaotic world. However, matching a guide dog with a blind owner isn’t as simple as it may seem.

Potential service dogs are bred by guide dog schools and begin their training when they are 8 weeks old. Volunteer puppy raisers take the pups into their home, teach them basic commands, housebreak them, and socialize them to different sights, sounds, other dogs and animals, people of all ages, different terrains and surfaces.

Puppies are exposed to things like escalators, waxed floors, kids running around screaming, and noisy traffic, so that when they encounter something new or different while they are working it’s not a big surprise. When pups reach 16 to 18 months, they return to the guide school and begin their training. Professional instructors work with the puppies over a period of four months.
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What is a Feist Dog?

feist MgrayBy Linda Cole

Even though feist dogs have been around in the United States for hundreds of years, these little dogs aren’t widely known north of the Mason/Dixon Line. They were developed for one reason – to hunt. A feist is described as a small, noisy mongrel; a mixed breed dog with a spirited and feisty demeanor.

A feist (also spelled fice or fyce) dog can easily be misidentified as a Jack Russell, but there is a difference. Unlike the Jack Russell, feist dogs are of mixed heritage and are a type of dog, not a breed. However, they do resemble a terrier in temperament and appearance. The hunting style of the Jack Russell is also different from a feist, which doesn’t go to ground after prey.

The United Kennel Club recognizes feists, but the American Kennel Club does not. Also known as Mountain Feist or Treeing Feist, these energetic dogs are found largely in the southern regions of the U.S., especially around the Ozark Mountain and Southern Appalachian regions where the American feist originated. At one time, feists were popular working dogs found on farms throughout the south.

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